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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Family Myths: Col. John Luttrell

Col. John Luttrell is probably one of the most famous Luttrells in American History.  He was instrumental in the founding and settling of Ft. Boonesborough, was one of the partners in the Transylvania Company that employed Daniel Boone to blaze a trail into Kentucky and was a war hero during the Revolutionary War.  He died gallantly in combat at the Battle of Lindley Mills in North Carolina.

N Carolina (10)

On a recent trip to North Carolina I spent hours trying to locate the Lindley Mills Battlefield.  I found the actual Lindley Mills on Cane Creek [est.1755].  It is a functioning [and modernized] business, but I couldn't find the actual battlefield or marker.  This Marker depicts the event that led to the battle and death of Colonel Luttrell.

There are two myths that have existed concerning the Colonel, the lesser myth is that:

"...some believed that the stature of the Col. was a result of being connected to the Earls of Dunster and/or the Earls of Carhampton in England and Ireland [respectively]. But while he may have been descended from these families the evidence is that his stature may have been more self-obtained than due to any connections." 1999, gdl

The more unfortunate myth that surrounds Col. John Luttrell concerns his descendants.  The Fact over the Myth is that he had no descendants! 

I know of at least one family branch that has held a family reunion for over 50 years now and sincerely believes that they are descendants of Col. John Luttrell.

Where the confusion comes in is that they are confusing their John Luttrell [m.Winnefred Lawrence] of Fauquier County, VA. with Col. John Luttrell [m.Susannah Hart] of Orange County, NC.  The situation is even further complicated by the presence of a third John Luttrell [also m.Ann] in Fauquier County, VA. 

Both of the Johns in Fauquier County were cousins and both died within a year [1789/90] of each other and were survived by their widows at a much later date than the Colonel who died in 1781.

Colonel Luttrell died and left a widow as he mentions in his will dated c.1775 [probably in connection with his partnership in the Transylvania Company]: 

...be aplied towards defraying and paying all my just debts and lawfull debts and that one third of the residue of the said lands to be given unto my three brothers Thomas LUTRELL, Hugh LUTREL and William LUTRELL to them and their heirs and assigns forever. Secondly; my will and desire is that my beloved wife, Susannah Lutrell have the residue of my estate both real and personal until the time that my child or children that she is now great with shall arive to the age of twenty one years or get married whichever of them circumstances first happens. My will is that my estate be equally divided between them to them and their heirs or assigns forever, but if it should so happen that my wife should no be with child or that her child she is now great with should die before it arives to twenty one years of or gets married as before mentioned in that case it is my desire that after the sequence paid my brothers and my just debts satisfied my estate be at her disposal to do with as she pleases. In testimony where of I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 20th day of March 1775.

As it turns out the child that Susannah 'is now great with' must of died because in the much contested and documented estate settlement never mentions a child of the Colonel.  Susannah remarries a man of questionable character after the death of the Colonel and the estate becomes contested by the brothers.  No where is the child mentioned in papers filed in the settlement of the estate or papers dealing with the disposal of some of the property.  Susannah and her second husband [Dr. John Umstead] purchase some of the Kentucky land [willed by the Colonel to his three half brothers] from William and Hugh.  Thomas is not mentioned and some believe he was dead by this time.

The Colonel fails to mention another half brother Richard in his will [there is constant confusion over who is and isn't still alive] and in probate papers filled by Richard he appears unsuccessful in obtaining any of  the Colonel's estate.

Papers were still being filed as late as 1821 by Susannah and the doctor and still no mention of a child, who would have been in his forties and would have more than likely been relevant to any claims or disposal of the properties.

So as you can see there is no proof of offspring and the overwhelming documentation points to there being no offspring of the Colonel.  There is on the other hand established evidence of the other John Luttrells both outliving the Colonel and there descendants are well established.


LITTRELL and LUTTRELL HEROES In the WAR for American Independence [All Spellings]: By KARL DEWITT LITTRELL [decsd] with NANCY LITTRELL GOLDSBERRY

Kentucky Records, Vol II, "From Original Court entries", Compiled by Mrs. William Breckinridge Ardery, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, Maryland.

Henderson County, Kentucky Deed Book A, Abstracted by Bettie Cummins Cook.

The Southern Genealogist's Exchange, Fall 1979, Vol. XX, #91.

The Transylvania Company and the founding of Henderson, Kentucky, By Archibald Henderson.

Kentucky Court of Appeals Deed Books, A-G, Volume I, by Michael L. Cook, C.G. & Bettie A. Cook, C.G., Cook Publications, Evansville, Indiana, 1985

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